Thursday, April 27, 2017

Women's Achievements

  Both the video we watched before class and Kings’ presentation emphasized the point that yes there is a lot that we have not done in the past nor are we doing now, but that there is an abundance of good in the fight for women’s rights. The video showed the history of female leaders throughout the world and how most people know nothing about them. The narrator asked random people on the streets how many female leaders they thought there were and truthfully my answer would have been just as incorrect as any of those people. Most people know of Queen Elizabeth and of Cleopatra, but there are so many others that I had never heard of. In the video the narrator talked about how society used to be more revolved around women, at least in some sense, and women were given a lot of power. It raised the point that the rise of agricultural and need for pure strength from the males led to an increase in male power and eventually shifted the power completely onto the men. It’s interesting to consider the fact that at some point society did place women higher than men. It is even more intriguing to think about when and how that changed, and I don’t think that we truly have an exact answer for that. 
  Another important point that Kings mentioned was that change takes time. She brought up the fact that the Seneca Falls Convention was in the mid 1800s, but women were not given the right to vote until 1919. At that point there was only one woman left that had been at the Seneca Falls Convention who was given the opportunity to vote for the first time (even though she didn’t end up voting). Another example Kings provided was Roe v. Wade. Roe was the face of the entire trial and fight for reproductive rights, but by the time the decision was made she had already had her baby and so it did not affect her (and she ended up changing her belief to pro-life). I think the biggest takeaway from this was that it can be frustrating and it may seem like nothing is changing or nothing is happening and in the end it may not even change how everything is right now, but in the future it can have an impact. This made me rethink my point in one of our last discussions when I said that we individually can’t do anything. I think that that is in some ways true, but not in the pessimistic way I was saying it before. The narrator in the 50/50 film we watched discussed the importance of female mentors and how by teaching your children you are teaching your children’s children. So although you may not have the largest impact alone you are still able to impact generations to come. In time that effect will ripple throughout society until everyone is on the same page, and we need everyone to change things and it does take time, but there has been progress made and there will be continued progress in the right direction. 
  The USA Women’s ice hockey boycott was a huge step for women’s rights and for promoting the strength of women. There are thousands of young girls who look to that team as their role models, and now they have seen that change is possible and that if those women are not going to accept inequality then they shouldn’t either. It is easy to talk about making change or complaining about the inequalities surrounding us, but until people do something nothing will change. This boycott was also very important because they were backed by male professional hockey players. This was yet another huge statement and it showed all of the young boys who look up to those players that they also have a responsibility to fight for equal rights. This example provides hope and it shows everyone that things are changing and we just have to keep fighting for it and that it is possible. 
  The video that we watched for homework talked about the fact that 50/50 isn’t just about getting power for women. She says that it is about empowering men as well. The narrator discusses parental leave as an example of lack of power for men. They are not allowed to be fully involved in the early life of their children, and even in the workplaces that do allow are surrounded by a stigma that leads to 50% of men feeling as thought they cannot actually take leave. Another point that she brought up was that the countries that promote equality for men and women and who have national laws in place to allow things such as parental leave for both males and females are the countries that are reported to be the happiest countries. 
  In class Kings showed us the beginning of “Missrepresentation": a film about the portrayal of women in the media. With the exponential increase in media consumption everyone has become more aware of the impact it has on society. People constantly talk about the excessive violence in movies and video games, and how that could be a factor in why there are so many mass shootings in the past decade. This topic was all over the media after numerous shootings in a row, and truthfully it is a valid point. We see violence and it surrounds the majority of media that we consume, and subconsciously it becomes engraved in our brains. If you never played a video game where you got to steal cars, shoot people, set off bombs, or anything like that, where would you get the idea to do that. We are not born with the knowledge that guns can be used as weapons to kill hundreds of people nor are we born with the idea that women are inherently less than men. My point here is that there is less of an outrage regarding how women are portrayed in the media and in video games (such as GTA). As young girls we are constantly comparing ourselves to people that do not even exist. We strive to replicate a computerized look and we set unrealistic expectations. We are setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment by wanting to become the women we see on TV and on billboards. And men are equally as harmed by this misrepresentation. They believe that women are supposed to look or dress a certain way and that idea is engraved in their mind by all of the media they consume.
          In the video, "Missrepresentation", it also showed an interview of a male actor being asked the same questions that a female actor is asked and it showed how truly ridiculous those questions are. I never though about it because it was just what always happened. That is part of the issue. It is expected that the focus is on how women look and so we don't often question it. When female actors are on the red carpet they aren't asked about their role as an actor or their accomplishments. Instead they are asked about their dress, hair, and makeup. We are naturally belittling the achievement of female actors by simply looking at them as an object to be viewed. This happens in every day life as well: we look at social media as a platform for girls to post pictures of themselves looking good. I myself do this. On Instagram girls are constantly judged based on how they look. They are judged by themselves, other girls and also guys. A girl's Instagram, or any social media account, is expected to show off their attractiveness. It isn't just about posting pictures of cool experiences it is about posting attractive pictures of you doing something cool. This is another example of media perpetuating the double standard between males and females.   
  Kings finished her presentation by saying that yes there is a lot of scarcity and we have not reached equality, but there is also an abundance that we can look to in order to empower us to fix that scarcity. I think this is an important point because rather than only focusing on what we have yet to accomplish if we focus on what has been done and all the amazing things women have accomplished we can use that to inspire more progress and take another step towards equality. 

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